cover image Southern Cross: A John Marshall Tanner Novel

Southern Cross: A John Marshall Tanner Novel

Stephen Greenleaf. William Morrow & Company, $20 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-688-12772-5

This ninth John Marshall Tanner novel (after Blood Type ) shows off the witty and trenchant Greenleaf in fine form. This time his middle-aged San Francisco private eye travels to Charleston, S.C., to aid a much admired college friend, civil rights lawyer Seth Hartman, who has received a death warrant from a right-wing hate group, the Alliance for Southern Pride. Marsh, regretful for not having participated in the civil rights movement, hopes his help will serve as a belated contribution to the cause. The portrait of Charleston, a town that still `` lives most of its life in another century,'' is convincing, as is the gallery of intriguing characters: Seth's estranged son Colin, a skinhead associated with ASP; the voluptuous charmer Jane Jean Hendersen, whom Seth has loved since they campaigned in the voter registration drive in 1966; her patriarchal, lawyer father; Alameda Smallings, the young black woman who wants to enter The Palisade, Charleston's all-white military academy; and the menacing field marshall of ASP's Purification Brigade. In doing his best to lance the festering boil of race hatred, Marsh uncovers old and new secrets that cast a harsh light on many, including his former classmate and idol. (Nov.)